Mindanao inventors want tech body transferred to OP

Samuel Abrenilla, who heads the Mindanao Inventors' Federation, Inc. said Mindanao inventors have long griped over difficulty in accessing funds from the Technology Application and Promotion Institute (TAPI), an agency under the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Abrenilla said Manila-wide and Luzon-wide inventors' organizations have received most of TAPI's funds for inventors and accused the agency of neglect of Mindanao. “There is imperialism up there (in Manila)," he said.

When a supposed P70,000 fund from TAPI failed to reached them Thursday, after it was verbally promised to be handed them personally by Josephine Santiago, director of TAPI, the exhibitors wanted some changes in treatment by the national government.

Virgillio Sanggutan, president of the Davao Inventors' Society, said they were expecting the P70,000 to be given them Thursday by Santiago, who arrived here to grace the exhibition at the NCCC Shopping Mall in Matina, this year.

Sanggutan said that Santiago went around the exhibits in the morning, then told them that she would visit TAPI projects in the city in the afternoon. The next thing the group heard was that Santiago had left for Manila that afternoon, and, Sanggutan said, “along with the P70,000.”

Sanggutan said that the finance officer of TAPI in Manila had told him that the TAPI had approved only P70,000 from their request of more than P200,000 and that would be personally handed by Santiago, who was coming over from Manila.

Sanggutan and other officers of the inventors’ federation have inquired about the amount from the local office of the DOST but was told it was not there. DOST Director, Delia Morados, has also asked them if they have any memorandum of agreement with TAPI. The group said they have not signed any, “only verbally,” Sanggutan said.

The P70,000 was supposed to cover for the prizes and other expenses in the exhibition.

Sanggutan said this forced members to raise funds from personal pockets. He said teachers and student exhibitors from Northern Mindanao have had to skip meals and to scrounge for accommodation.

Sanggutan said while TAPI was under the DOST, the department's regional offices do not run TAPI's programs. He cited the lack of extension offices or at least detailed personnel of TAPI in DOST's regional offices.

"Who will cater to the needs of the inventors from the provinces, especially here in Mindanao?" Sanggutan asked.

"Now is the time to take action. Kawawa naman ang mga Mindanawon inventors (They are pitiful) and the future inventors," he said. 

Sanggutan, whose family runs MI herbal products, said TAPI's funds should be equally divided to inventors from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

TAPI, according to its website, was created by virtue of Executive Order No. 128 which reorganized the National Science and Technology Authority (NSTA) into the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in 1987.

As one of science and technology department's 22 service agencies, TAPI's is tasked to promote the transfer and commercialization of technologies and market the services of other operating units and agencies of DOST.

TAPI, its website says, has four major products and services, namely enterprise development, technology promotions, consultancy services and assistance to inventors.

MindaNews sought  TAPI's side through the DOST office in Davao City but as of press time there was no response.

Some inventors though, said they were not giving up due to lack of government support and added that they would search for opportunities to promote their products. They thanked the NCCC Mall of Davao for providing them free venue, a permanent gallery to showcase their products and other services.

Gonzalo Catan, chair, Philippine Federation of Inventors said the NCCC support could go along way to spur technological flow to Mindanao and result in economic growth that would benefit not only the inventors but the whole community.(Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)